In the intervening months since last year's HUMP! Festival came to town, the film festival promoters tell us that Facebook has deactivated their business page for "explicit content" even though they show nothing explicit in their advertising. That has made it very challenging to bring HUMP! to new markets, and to grow the festival in general. That's too bad, because this unique collection of amateur sex-positive films has much to offer.
Without any help from Facebook, the 14th annual festival still hit the road earlier this year. It comes to Cleveland this week and screens at 7 and 9:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Capitol Theatre.
Sex columnist Dan Savage, the creator of the Savage Love sex advice column that runs each week in this paper and in alt-weeklies around the country, curates HUMP!, and he definitely keeps things inclusive. The festival features people of all body sizes, shapes, ages, colors, sexualities and genders. It aims to be a "unique celebration of creative sexual expression," and it certainly accomplishes that.
Some of the highlights include Paint Party, a short that comes across as a sexually explicit Blue Man Group performance. It features nude actors covered in all sorts of body paint. They splatter each other with paint to the sounds of a techno beat. You can still make out breasts, buttocks and penises, but the short doesn't feature any penetration. The same can't be said for Jump Start My Love, a feature on a loving interracial couple who experiment with all sorts of sexual positions.
Shorts such as The Punishment and Please center on dominance and rough sex but do so in such a way that they never become exploitative. Campground, one of the edgier clips, focuses on a sexual encounter with a "horny Boy Scout," and the very odd fetish flick Whatever Floats Your Goat finds a woman dressing up as a goat to be "milked" by another woman.
The festival even includes a funny song-and-dance number that emphasizes the lighter side of sex.
A press release for the festival promises that the festival's audience features "diverse, sex-positive people" and that watching the movies with that type of crowd is a "fun, unforgettable, and liberating experience." The diverse lineup of films in this year's festival suggests that will once again be the case.